herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

So what became of the drunken sailor ... he got prison

The drunk captain of a ship which collided with a passenger ferry in Northern Ireland, causing more than £1m (€1.25m) of damage, has been jailed for a year.

Miroslaw Pozniak (55) admitted crashing his cargo boat while three times over the alcohol limit but said it was because of news of his wife's ill-health, his defence barrister told Downpatrick Crown Court.

The married father-of-two was at the helm on March 7 when he crashed into a ferry with 100 passengers and crew on board in Belfast Lough after ignoring warnings from coastguards. He had no look-out despite the darkness.

Judge David Smyth told Pozniak: "This sentence is to make it clear that the following of the regulations in relation to alcohol and also in relation to the charting and proper adherence to accepted routes is of vital importance.

"The ending of your 30-year career and the sentence effectively demonstrate that."



Relapse

Sean Doran, defending, said the captain had been drinking six or seven bottles of beer in his cabin and this was most uncharacteristic of him.

It had followed a "difficult" conversation with his wife in Poland when he learned that her seeming health improvement had changed and she had suffered a relapse.

The collision happened as his boat, the Union Moon, was leaving Belfast Lough and the Stena Feronia was entering from Birkenhead.

The judge said the course was clear that the Union Moon should veer away by about 20 degrees but it did not.

About six minutes before the collision, the Stena Feronia attempted a manoeuvre which was designed to reduce the impact but it was too late to prevent a collision. The prow of the Union Moon struck the car deck of the Stena Feronia.

hnews@herald.ie

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